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Exploring Our Differences: UK vs. US

Our guest blogger, Kathryn Senior, is back and this time, she’s going to explain the differences between UK and US crochet terminology in this refreshing read…
Exploring our differences: UK and US crochet terms
Whether you are starting out in crochet or an old hand, chances are that you’ve been confused by the difference between UK terms and US terms used in patterns, blogs and tutorials.
Here we’re going to concentrate on the differences between English-speaking nations.
This guide should give you a good overview of both sets of terms to keep you happy and content in your hooky adventures. But be warned – the differences are, at times, truly mind-boggling.

Why don't we all use the same crochet language?
The reasons are lost in the mists of time but probably arose when migration occurred from the UK and Ireland to the US in the mid 1800s. Back then, patterns and skills were passed on by word of mouth and it’s easy to see how things could have got changed.
Crochet stitches - differences between UK & US terms
If you look at the names of the stitches used in UK versus US terms, you can see some similarities, but also the important differences:

UK Term

US Term

Chain (ch)

Chain (ch)

Slip Stitch (sl st)

Slip Stitch (sl st)

Magic loop/magic ring

Magic loop

Double crochet (dc)

Single crochet (sc)

Half Treble (htr)

Half double crochet (hdc)

Treble

Double crochet (dc)

Half double treble (hdtr)

Half treble (htr)

Double treble (dtr)

Treble (tr)/Triple crochet (tc)

Its easy to see why the two sets of terms cause serious problems if you are just starting out in crochet and learning to use patterns.


If you work a UK pattern but think its in US terms, the item you make will turn out twice the size! Do it the other way around, and it will be far too small.


In the second post on international crochet we look at crochet stitches in more detail and see how to recognise which terms a pattern uses (if it doesn’t say).
Let's talk yarn...

As well as calling crochet stitches by different names, we tend to also refer to yarn and its properties and characteristics in a completely different way too.
How is yarn packaged?
Yarn can be wound into cones, hanks, cakes, skeins or balls.

Yarn is still available in large cones, usually for knitters who use a knitting machine but some types of yarn are used by crocheters directly from a cone and this seems to be pretty much the same wherever you are in the world.

Typically in the UK, the traditional name for something that looks like the photo above is a hank, although the term skein is now being used interchangeably to describe this form of wound yarn.



To use yarn purchased like this, you need to either hand wind it into a spherical ball or use a yarn winder to form a flat cylinder called a cake. Again, these terms are the same in the US, UK and Australia and New Zealand.

Now we get into the differences. The photo above shows a typical skein of yarn sold in the US. In the US, a skein is defined as having a more elongated shape and is designed to be pulled from the centre.
Most US crocheters and knitters seem to use the term skein for all yarn packaged commercially and for hand dyed hanks that need to be wound into cakes or balls before use.

This shorter but still oval ball of yarn is much more familiar to UK crocheters. A ball of yarn can be round or oval (balls are less elongated than skeins) and is usually used from the outside. Pulling a ball from the centre can be done, but it can be tricky.
The UK trend is towards calling everything a ball of yarn, unless it’s an unwound hank, in which case it's usually called a skein.
Clear as mud? We did warn you that this would boggle your mind!
Yards & Metres
The US still uses Imperial measurements so US patterns usually give the amount of yarn required in yards. In the UK, and most other places in the world, metres are standard.
Today, most yarn packaging shows how many yards and metres are included and patterns often list the number of metres required as well as the yardage.
The trouble is that a common source of confusion is still which is bigger, a yard or a metre. This can be crucial when working out if you have enough yarn to complete a pattern.
1 yard = 36 inches = 992.5cm
 
1 metre = 39 inches = 1,000cm


So a metre is bigger than a yard by 3 inches (7.5cm).
Yards Weights
Yarn is sold throughout Europe and in many other countries of the world using kilograms and grams as the unit of measurement. The most common units of yarn sold are 25g, 50g, 100g and 400g.
In the US, some brands of yarn are still sold in ounces, typically in 4, 6 or 8 ounce skeins. Others are packaged as 50g or 100g but sold as 1.75 oz and 3.5 oz skeins respectively.


Yarn Thickness
To add even more to the confusion, the term yarn weight can also be used to describe the thickness of yarn. This makes sense when you think about it as the same length of a thicker yarn will always weigh more than the same length of thinner yarn.
But to add to the head scratching, Australia/New Zealand terminology is different yet again to either US or UK terminology:

UK Term

US Term

Australian Term

Craft Yarn Council

Roving

Jumbo

20 ply

7

Super Chunky

Super Bulky, Roving

16 ply

6

Chunky

Bulky

12 ply

5

Aran

Worsted weight

10 ply

4

DK (Double Knitting)

Light Worsted

8 ply

3

Sport Weight (Rarely Used)

Sport Weight

5 ply

2

4 ply or sock weight

Fingering or sock weight

4 ply or sock weight

1

3 ply or baby

Fingering or sock weight

3 ply

1

Lace weight or 2 ply

Lace weight

1-3 ply

0

The Craft Yarn Council in the US has tried to introduce standard terms for yarn weights using the numbers shown in the right hand column of the table above but they don’t seem to be that well used.


Hook Sizes

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse… The terms used to describe crochet hook sizes are the most confusing of all when you look at what different countries use.
As well as UK/European metric and US sizes, there are also Australian sizes and Canadian sizes. This last category is also called Imperial sizing and is what UK crocheters used before the change to metric measurements in the 1970s.
Various sources differ, but the following table represents the commonly accepted conversions:

UK/Europe (Metric)

US (set 1)

US (set 2)

Canadian/Imperial/UK before metric

2 mm

14

2.25 mm

B

1

13

2.5 mm

12

2.75 mm

C

2

12

3.0 mm

11

3.25 mm

D

3

10

3.5 mm

E

4

9

3.75 mm

F

5

4.0 mm

G

6

8

4.5 mm

7

7

5.0 mm

H

8

6

5.5 mm

I

9

5

6.0 mm

J

10

4

6.5 mm

K

10 1/2

3

7.0 mm

2

8.0 mm

L

11

0

9.0 mm

M

13

00

10.0 mm

N

15

000

16.0 mm

Q

Gauge and tension, skip and miss
Crochet patterns, like knitting patterns, often tell you how many stitches and rows you should have in a specific measurement – usually 10cm (4 inches).
In the US terminology this is known as gauge but if you use UK terms its called tension.
Gauge and tension are commonly understood, particularly now that the internet has brought UK and US crochet patterns to an international audience. Other minor variations in descriptions don’t usually cause too much trouble:
 

UK Terms

US Terms

Miss (as in miss a stitch)

Skip

Colour

Color

Jumper, pullover or jersey

Sweater

Yarn over hook (yoh)

Yarn over (yo)

So what do we have in common?
The most important things – a love of yarn, a love of crochet and a love of creating.
The differences are really just words that we might need to look up from time to time….